We all know that technology is far from perfect, and Google Maps is no exception. And while errors are to be expected, some of Google’s gaffes have caused some pretty serious stuff to happen. Here are ten things that Google Maps errors have led to.
10. Wrong Turns
Many a traveler has taken a wrong turn thanks to Google Maps. In 2008, Google Maps started redirecting tourists looking for Round Valley State Park in New Jersey to the home of resident Laurie Gneiding. In 2011, Google Maps started sending tourists looking for Mt. Rushmore to Storm Mountain Center, a retreat center located some 13 miles from Mt. Rushmore. In 2015, tourists looking for the Blue Mountains ended up on a rural cul-de-sac in New South Wales instead. And in 2017, a wrong turn left one woman stranded in the Grand Canyon for five days. It nearly cost her her life.
9. Disappearing Towns
For about a month in the summer of 2010, Sunrise, Florida, no longer existed. Its city hall, businesses, addresses, phone numbers and public spaces were all gone from Web searches. That’s because any time someone searched for Sunrise, FL, on Google Maps they were redirected 200 miles away to Sarasota, FL, instead. According to CIO magazine, the glitch was eventually straightened out by Google.
Also disappearing off the face of the planet was Saint-Pierre and Miquelon, two French Islands off the coast of Newfoundland. Well, they hadn’t completely disappeared. Google Maps just said they were submerged underwater. The person who reported the error to Google had this to say: “Saint-Pierre & Miquelon: There are roads, but the land appears to be missing. That’s probably a problem: I’m pretty sure they haven’t sunk beneath the waves yet.”
8. Neighborhood Renaming
The Rincon Hill district near downtown San Francisco got a new name earlier this year when Google Maps began referring to it as the East Cut. The Silver Lake area of Los Angeles began showing up as Silver Lake Heights on Google Maps. And in Detroit, a neighborhood previously known as Fiskhorn is now being called Fishkorn. According to The New York Times, Google declined to say just how these misnomers came to be. According to the newspaper, some appear to be research mistakes and rebrandings by real estate agents, while others are merely fabrications.
7. Mistaken-Identity Murder
In 2010, a wealthy couple (Dennis and Merna Koula) ended up dead in their Wisconsin home after Google Maps led a hit man to the wrong address–at least that’s the theory anyway. According to Daily Mail, investigators believed it was possible the target was actually the couple’s neighbor, Steve Burgess–a local bank president who had been receiving death threats. “In fact, when you Google Earth Steve Burgess’ address, the zoom into the house goes to the Koula’s house, not to Steve Burgess’ house,” 48 Hours correspondent Peter Van Sant said in an interview with lead investigator John Christophersen and Eric Koula, the couple’s son. This case “has all the markings of a hit, I’ve been told,” Eric said in the interview.
Eric was later fingered for the job. However, he denies having any involvement in the murders and is planning to file a second appeal. His first appeal was rejected in 2015.
6. Tunnel Closures
Guards had to shut down an underwater tunnel in Norway after a Turkish cyclist attempted to go through it. The cyclist was following a Google Maps route when he ended up in the 4.5-mile-long enclosure. Everything was fine until he got to an incline inside the tunnel. It was then that he stopped and sat down. “The man did not seem to have much experience in cycling long distances, and especially not up hills,” a guard told Travel + Leisure magazine. “He had a three-kilometer-long incline ahead of him.” Sharp gusts of winds from passing trucks also made the ride difficult, the guard added. The tunnel was closed for about 30 minutes as police attempted to rescue the cyclist.
5. International Disputes
The origins of an international dispute between Nicaragua and Costa Rica can be traced back to a Google Maps error that said territory actually belonging to Costa Rica belonged to Nicaragua instead. As a result, Nicaraguan troops unwittingly crossed the border into Costa Rica, removed that country’s flag, and replaced it with one of their own flags. Nicaragua asked Google to keep the border line as is, while Costa Rica asked for the border to be changed back to the way it was. The Organization of American States and the U.N. Security Council were called in to mediate the border dispute. They found that the Google Maps boundary was indeed inaccurate.
4. Demolished Homes
A Google Maps error led to the wrong home being demolished. In 2016, a demolition company in Texas was supposed to tear down a home at 7601 Cousteau Drive. Instead, they tore down a home one block away at 7601 Calypso Drive after Google Maps directed them there. According to Newsweek, a neighbor informed the homeowner that her residence had been demolished. To make matters worse, the demolition company refused to apologize and even went so far as to say that it wasn’t a big deal. Local residents then took to Facebook to criticize the company for not compensating the homeowner. They eventually offered an apology.
3. Mislabeled Businesses
A home in Darwin, Australia, was accidentally mislabeled as a pop-up pizzeria in April 2017. As a result, Michael McElwee, the homeowner, received an influx of visitors looking for the pizza place, including a man who showed up to deliver magazines to the pizzeria and someone who was looking for a job. “It is like getting your identity stolen,” McElwee told ABC Radio Darwin. “Your house has been stolen and put in as a pizza shop.”
The pop-up pizzeria is actually located in a nearby park.
2. Unfinished Toll Roads Listed as Available Driving Routes
In 2011, a Google Maps error said an unfinished Maryland toll road was fully open and ready for traffic. The road wasn’t scheduled to be completed until early 2012.
A 6-mile stretch of the road opened in late February 2011, but a segment of it was still under construction. “Beware: Everything you read on the Internet may not be true,” Lon Anderson, spokesman for AAA-Mid-Atlantic, said about the Google Maps mistake in an article in The Baltimore Sun.
In response, Google released this statement from a corporate spokesperson: “We’re aware that a section of Maryland Route 200, which is under construction, is appearing as an available driving route and are working to correct that issue as soon as possible… And as always, we encourage users to let us know when something is incorrect by using the ‘Report a Problem’ tool, found at the bottom right corner of the map.”
1. A Dangerous Stroll Around Town
In 2010, a Los Angeles woman sustained physical, mental and emotional injuries after a route recommended by Google Maps led her to a four-lane highway with speeding cars and no sidewalks. As a result, the woman was struck by a vehicle.
According to The Daily Telegraph, Lauren Rosenberg used her BlackBerry to get walking directions from one address to another in Park City, Utah. But, instead of sending her on a safe route, Google Maps directed her to a stretch of Deer Valley Drive that had no sidewalks and no pedestrian path. There were sidewalks and paths on the other side of the highway, but Rosenberg was unable to reach them before being struck by a speeding car. Additionally, the walking path was packed with snow and therefore not open to pedestrians at the time.
Rosenberg sued Google for compensation for medical bills, lost wages and punitive damages. Unfortunately, the court did not rule in her favor.
Have you ever been led astray by Google Maps? Has anyone ever shown up at your home because of a Google Maps mistake? Let us know. We’d love to hear about it!